I'm not ALWAYS strong...especially when it comes to Cancer

My Sister, Mom, and I dressed as members of the Red Hat Society in Victoria, BC

I am strong.

I am confident.

I love life.

I have lived, experienced, and enjoyed so much that this life has put before me.

I am grateful.

In the gym and in the community (both in the fitness world as well as in my neighborhood and among my peers) I feel I have created an image that I am always strong.

I am not.

Sure, I am undeniably addicted to fitness and bodybuilding in particular. I love so much about the sport. I love what it does for health. I love how it makes me feel. I love how it shows me that I can truly do anything that I put my mind to. It's helped me believe in myself. It shows me that I can set hard goals and I can achieve them. It shows me that I can literally change the shape of my body. It's taught me patience because all change takes time. Muscle gain is slow, and for some slower than others - myself included. It's both a mental and a physical game, and it's tested me time and time again. It's never easy. It's always deliberate. And just knowing that helps me feel strong. And perhaps the perception of this industry and my being in it causes people to feel I am strong.

If nothing else, I am a dreamer and a goal-setter. I know that I can do hard things. I know that I can achieve most things if I commit, but I also know that all success is not given but earned. And I am a firm believer that I am in control of my own destiny. I have to make things happen. I have always felt this way and acted upon this belief. And perhaps that's why people feel I am strong.

Maybe it's the fact that I make things happen that people feel I am strong.

But if you only knew. I am extremely soft. I am sentimental. I am lead by my heart. I am a feeler. I am a nurturer. I am a carer. I am more driven by relationships with people and my feelings than any quality that supposedly "makes me strong".

When I am in "tune", I live life by moments. I live in moments. I try to see, capture, and appreciate all the little things that make up life.

And this has never been more true than this past year with my mom. Cancer has changed everything. Stage 4 Lung Cancer has put a time limit on my relationship with my mom. And my friendship with her has always been very special to me.

Here are some examples of "moments" that have special meaning looking back.

  • As a young girl I used to love to stay home from school so I could spend time with my mom. Sometimes it would be after I'd broken up with a boy, or he'd broken up with me. Of course I was in love every single time (right), so she'd offer for me to stay home. She was my confidante.

  • I'd run errands with her almost daily. Now I can rarely get my kids to run to the bank with me. Going to the bank and post office with her was practically a daily occurrence, and I never complained.

  • She was and is my best friend. As a teenager I would call her from school just to tell her that I loved her (and yes, I am thinking of that song right now - I bet you are too).

  • Throughout my life I have never been ashamed to show my affection toward her in public. She never embarrassed me, but I am sure that on more than one occasion I embarrassed her. I'd hug her around my friends, pick her up, carry her around.

  • And for as long as I can remember I've felt that I was her protector. My mom is all of 5'1" on a good day. On several occasions skiing or even skating, I'd fear that she'd fall or someone would run in to her - even though she was perfectly skilled at doing both.

Moments. Feelings. My relationship with her.

Never have I felt more wanting to protect her than I do now. Cancer does that.

And I feel so helpless. So NOT strong. So incapable of helping in any way of significance. No way of changing the outcome.

And now more than ever I want nothing more than to fill my life with more "moments". I want to turn back time, capture every lost moment and savor every real one that I knew I had. I'd love to be a child again and lose myself, my day-to-day "stuff", my responsibilities, my to-dos, in my mom's loving arms.

There have been so many times I have lost myself in tears, with a heart I can't seem to give peace, knowing I can't change what's ahead of us.

Cancer does that.

And it's the one thing that out of everything makes me feel so NOT strong. Weak.

Mom on Santa's Lap - 2016

There are many things that make me strong. I've learned that this is not necessarily one of them, but I am doing my best. Every day. Trying to fill that void I already feel. Trying to make a difference. Trying to have an impact. Trying to make memories. Trying in some small way to leave a legacy by building this business (She Lifts Gear) with my mom because ultimately she is my reason behind it.

Cancer is hard, but I am trying to be strong.

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